Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote

soon az mai pawz stops maykng mi pauz ai tayx teh plunj
I've been thinking a lot recently about the role that doubt, fear, anxiety, and the need to be in control has played in my tendency to collect unfinished stories, novels, essays, book reviews and poems that never seem to reach the publishable stage.  All told there are several dozen now.

This is a huge issue for me and I plan to take it by the tail this year.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Cat's Food Looks Funny

mai fud luks lyk mi

This is a lazy post.

I took that pic of Merlin's bowl a few days ago and just uploaded it to to caption it.  That was the third time I'd found some version of that shape in his bowl.

On valentines day it was a heart.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I think we're toast Mate.
Take your woe is me refrain where the sun don't shine Mac.
Already there.
There's always a sunny side.
Not down here there aint.
Not if you refuse to open your eyes and see.

Lunch today was a snafu-o-rama.  One thing after another went wrong.  Toasted cheese sandwiches and soup is a lunch I'm practiced at and have more than once had Mom's tray in her lap in 25 minutes from walking into the kitchen.

Not this time.  First glitch was when the wire on the cheese slicer broke.  Slicing chedder of a brick with a chef's knife takes much longer and no two are the same size or shape so making a sandwich with them is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

Then the griddle in the middle of the stove was covered with things my sister left there as task reminders.  I had to find places for 8 empty food supplement bottles, 2 empty serving containers and 1 stirring spoon holder in a room where every surface is covered except the burners on the stove.

Yep.  You guessed it.  I let some items rest their edges on the edge of the top right burner thinking they were safe since I had not intention of using that burner.  Then I promptly turned that burner on instead of the griddle.  The griddle dial is in the middle with the left burner dials to the left of it and the right burner dials to the right of it and the top burners it's immediate neighbors.  It's not the first time which should have been enough to stop me from leaving the cereal server and spoon holder anywhere near the burners or at the very least should have had me double and triple checking I had turned the right dial.

More things when wrong but nothing major like the broken slicer and the melted plastic all over a burner.  They amounted to things like
getting the soup cans out but forgetting to open them and later forgetting to turn the burner on under the soup
stepping on or kicking into my cat Merlin who dogs my feet from sink to fridge to stove to cuttingboard, to cupboard to...
dropping things
spilling things
misplacing things
forgetting to butter the outside of the cheese sandwiches before slapping on the griddle
Mom announcing she needed the bathroom just as I was about to announce I was on the way with her tray.  That's a twenty minute wait so her soup and sandwich weren't exactly hot anymore.  I stuck her sandwich in the microwave for 11 seconds and that remelted the cheese without taking all of the toasted crispiness out.

More such things happened during cleanup.  Thus I was getting back to my desk over two hours after I left it with forty minutes left before I was supposed to go start dinner prep.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

146th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 1 2014

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.

In Round 1 this year I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 in April 2012.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  I've had one beta reader so far but would really appreciate at least one more before I take the plunge with it.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  For Round 4 I've stripped Current of all previous entries, rewrote Fiction Files to reflect current goals, added AWAI Copywriting, and pruned the kudzu out of Lifequake, Self-Manage and Workstation sections.  

Current Check-In --
Fiction Files -- newly adjusted goals for 10-09-13
Other Writing -- working the AWAI course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings
Read Craft -- several recently finished books
The Lifequake -- Life decided to give me free lessons on the art of flexibility in January of this year.
Self Management -- applying flexibility, persistence, habit rehabilitation as I learn that caring for myself is the foundation for all else.
Evolution of the Workstations -- have made no major changes since early September so I think it's working


February 26 -- I'm on duty with Mom M-W this week with a counselor appointment on Thursday so I don't have time to spend hours contemplating my goals and analyzing what's working and what's not as I've been doing for this entire month.  So I'll let the new spreadsheet layout speak for itself.  It will show progress in some areas and not so much in others.  What's new?

In the LOLcat accompanying this entry I give you a Ray Bradbury Quote and the poem I wrote in Kitteheze elaborating it.  Now in the spirit of the play recommended by Shan Jeniah Burton (as I discussed for last check-in) I'm hoping to make "Jump and build your wings on the way down" my mantra going forward.

February 23 -- Since I just got Wednesday's check-in posted there isn't much more to say about my progress so I'm going to talk about Shan Jeniah Burton's Monday pep talk on Row80 and it's impact .

Let me begin by thanking her for the wake-up-call as this is something I already knew but had, in the attempts to wrangle the chaos my life had become a year ago back into a bare minimum of order, lost sight of.  (see the Lifequake section below)

I know from repeated experience that without the sense of play you loose the passion and the work becomes drudgery which you resist and the output is unpalatable, lifeless and dull.

So I'm going to take this latest lesson to heart and bring back the play. Beginning with loosing the embarrassment about my goofing around on

Most of what I do there is creating LOLs relevant to my intended post and more often than not those are about reading or writing.  I call them Lit Kits.  LOL making is by nature a playful activity and much of what I do is word play from puns to poetry to pushing the boundaries on concepts.  And that's true even if the theme isn't strictly literary.

It should have been a big clue that what I was doing was not frivolous by the time I'd composed the third off the cuff poem on a LOL.

The LOL accompanying this check-in is  the one I created for yesterday's Friday Forays in Fiction which was an author quote.  The quote was from Marina Warner author of Stranger Magic which I just got out of the library again.  It is an exploration of the influence of the Arabian Nights on Western Civilization culture and how the west's enthusiasm for it changed the perception of the cultures of the originators of the tales--Middle East and India primarily. The quote is actually from another of her books.

Warner is a professor whose specialty is in fairy tales, folk lore, legend and myth which is one of my favorite type stories and favorite subject since I discovered Joseph Campbell in the 80s and learned that story is not simply frivolity.  Stories are teaching tools that use the power of playfulness to get their lesson past the biases of your mental censor where they can work on your subconscious.

This is something that all storytellers should take to heart whether they write primarily fiction stories or no as all writing with a beating heart is playful.

So thanks again Shan Jeniah Burton.  I accept your challenge.  Let's play.

February 19 -- I missed the last two check-ins.  I did try.  I started work on this entry for the 12th, switched the date to the 15th and now to the 19th but I'm still working on it on Friday--a day before the linky goes up for the 23rd's check-in.  The room project, (see pic to right and link below it) post commitments, vid chats and being on duty with Mom every day but one last week and feeling unwell this week made it hard to find time to reassess my goals and revamp the spreadsheet accordingly which I thought needed to be the next step seeing how we're already nearly two months into the round.

You'll see in the spreadsheet screenshot above that I've added new columns, renamed others, and rearranged their order to loosely reflect the order in which the activity is tended to. And I've increased the time investment minimum for each goal from 15 to 30+ minutes per day.  But in many, if not most, cases that is an average reflecting the intent to total 3hrs for the week   This gives me the option to skip a day for any I choose and if I designate Sunday as skip day for enough of them I will have a large block of time to devote to one of the goals or other projects or pastimes entirely.  With the idea being that Sunday is for whatever activity is drawing me whether a ROW80 GOAL or no.

I'll just list the columns here in order noting with each the exact expectation and how it differs from before if it does.

SLEEP 7.5+ = NEW  The goal is to get 7.5 hours or more per night consistently.  This has been a struggle all my life so I'm not expecting perfection but I hope to reach a better than 50% average success by the end of Round 1.

Why designate SLEEP as a ROW80 goal?  Because I've discovered that sleep deprivation is lethal to creativity, mental acuity, concentration, focus and optimism, confidence and accuracy.  All of which are necessary for success as a writer.

MOVE 30M+ = I'm no longer the limp rag I was when I first set the MOVE goal in 2012 so I need to expect more of myself:

  • 30 minutes per day up from 15 is what I settled on.  
  • Also now that I'm so much stronger (think of all that was entailed in the big room project!) its time to stop giving credit for normal daily activities--unless I'm wearing weights on both wrists and both ankles.  Otherwise it needs to be a sustained activity of the kind that comes to mind with the word exercise.   
  • It includes both aerobic and muscle building.  
  • Until the weather improves that means the mini-tramp for aerobic and isometric, stretchy bands, wearing weighted bands on wrists and ankles and book lifting for arm muscle building and squat walking on the tramp for leg muscle building.  
  • I also will expect myself to do two sustained 30 minute tramp sessions per week in which 10 minutes between warm up and cool down must rise to the level of vigorous.

FREE WRITE = Includes: misc writing exercises, journaling, Morning Pages, themed word lists, word association, stream of consciousness. speed dash, and xstreamwrite, an exercise I created that combines speed dash with one or more of the previous three.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

DAYDREAM STORY = with note taker at hand.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

FICTION FILES = see FICTION FILES section below for detailed list of tasks.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

AWAI = AWAI Copywriting course work: reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking. Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

BOOK REVIEWS = NEW  So new I've not started keeping records.  Tho for this one I've not been doing much outside of the blog tours so there is a huge backlog of finished books--ARC, borrowed, owned--that I've yet to review.  Tho the Daily minimum is set at 30m I'm actually intending to do 60m three time a week or 90m twice a week. The idea being to have enough time to finish the review I begin each time.

RESEARCH = NEW  So new I've not kept track but this is actually something I need to set boundaries on as I can easily spend the whole day researching.  I'm thinking 3hr min and 5hr max per week.  And not necessarily daily.  I'd rather do bigger chunks on fewer days than be restricted to 30min sessions daily.

READ CRAFT = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

READ FICTION = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

The last four columns are word count separated by type.  For anything that gets spruced up for posting, or publishing I count the rough draft words which tend to be more than double the final draft:

AWAI WORDS = NEW  copywriting exercises and spec copy for potential clients.  Soon there will be the web copy I write for my own freelance copywriting site.

BKRV WORDS = self explanatory and I've been keeping track for several months out of curiosity.

FIC/WRIMO WORDS = I've retitled the column so that I can start tracking fiction words even between the wrimo events

MISC WORDS = NEW  Includes journaling and the others listed in FREEWRITE as well as blogging, emails, poems, and the notes in FICTION FILES that aren't fiction.

Just About
February 8 -- My main focus continues to be this room.  My creativity and brainwork wordstation is just about right.  I've already made a few minor tweaks since that pic was taken and am about to make a fairly major one that involves moving the tramp out of the cubby as try as I might I can't have a good workstation configuration and keep the tramp accessible.  I really like the concept I have in mind but will save the description for the after picture.

Nexus 7 in Keyboard Case
more pics
The latest development that will change the parameters of my writing life rather significantly I think is the addition of my Nexus 7 with keyboard case on Tuesday.  For starters it will make the READ CRAFT and READ FICTION time investment goals easier by giving me back the portability of my ebooks lost when my netbook became unavailable.

The Blaze smartphone had done so to some extent but the small screen coupled with my need for large fonts was a frustrating combo.  There will be more room to keep as large an ebook library as I could hope to manage on the Nexus as well.  Space was limited on the Blaze.

The portability will also contribute to the MOVE goal by making it easier to have music, pods, audio books or video available while on the tramp--even if I took it out on the porch this spring.

As for the writing itself, again portability!  From room to room to out and about--bed, waiting on downloads on the Aspire, car travel, waiting in the car, the library, waiting rooms, the yard, the lake, the park, the porch...

It was for the writing and what I find essential for smooth flow of words from mind to screen that I made the Bluetooth keyboard a part of the original purchase instead of saving it for later.

As for the lifequake:  mood is fairly stabilized as long as I respect the med and sleep regime, no news on the separation front (I've been here a year and a month now and last time Ed and I saw each other without benefit of vid chat will be 9 months on the 11th).

As for self management:  I've gotten quite slack.  Messed up my mood big time in the last month by pulling too many all nighters and short nights.  Missed meds several times.

I think this last wake-up call might have scared me straight. I had a low-grade chronic headache for days.  I stopped making long term memories or at least not dependably.  I grumbled and growled and snapped at Merlin.  I grumbled and growled and yelled at myself and inanimate objects.  Especially over the many silly mistakes--and there were many, maybe triple a typical day.  I had to read paragraphs over and over and couldn't remember the first sentence by the time I got to the last.  My vision went wonky--splashes of kaleidoscopic color overlaid everything and the edges of thing wobbled and pulled out of shape like taffy.  And creativity?  What's that?

I'm thinking about putting SLEEP on the spreadsheet making it a ROW80 GOAL.  The time investment goal being a minimum of 7.5 hours per night.  Getting that bare minimum regularly has proven essential to brainwork--creativity, memory, focus.  Essential as well to maintaining a stable mood--lower irritability, confusion, fog-head, anxiety, frustration, self-deprecation and pessimism.

I'm thinking about doing the same for MOVE which is equally relevant to the same list, helps acquire better sleep, lowers blood pressure and boosts creativity and problem solving.  And for both of them I need to bag the Y/N and record the actual time invested.

February 2 -- I am really late jumping into this round.  But although I'm just now declaring my intentions, I continued to act as if throughout January, maintaining the time investment goals from round 4 2013.  I was just too busy to prep the first post which entailed taking the old check-in template back to bare bones and revising it according to intentions for this round.

The Big Room Project that occupied most of my time and attention since Christmas, was mostly in honor of ROW80.  I was tired of the half measures.  Tired of shifting stuff from here to there and back again.  Tired of the dust that made my eyes and nose itch and drip.  Tired of never being able to put my hand on the thing I needed when I needed it.  Tired of spending so much of the time I should be investing in writing and its support tasks on rearranging and reorganizing my workspace.

So when my sister was scheduled to have oral surgery on the 13th and planned to spend the next ten days at her best friend's house getting pampered and so arranged for Mom to spend that time at our brother's, I planned a major overhaul of this room.  A spring clean.  I took just about everything that I could move without help out, swept the carpet and then vacuumed it, dusted from ceiling to floor, eliminated boxes by consolidating partially filled boxes and nesting empty boxes and taking them to my sort station in the basement. I found and treated a large mildew stain under the cubby desk.  A likely culprit along with the dust for causing the itchy eyes and nose.

Many posts since New Years were about the project:  Many of them mostly photo essays.
Makez Up Ur Mindz Already!!! -- about beginning the first foiled attempt to start the room redo
Stuck With It -- pics of the bad ending of my first attempt to start the project
Nostalgia Nudges -- pics of some knickknacks I remember dusting once upon a time
The Big Room Project -- pics of the taking apart part
Mildew Moratorium --  pics of the mildew before, during and after treating
Sunday Serenity #371 -- pics of two antiques
Easy-Peasey -- assembling the Ott Tattoo lamp I got for Christmas
Not Quite Right -- a very temp workstation to use while putting room back together
Assembling the Puzzle -- bringing stuff back in
Workstation WOW -- workable for now (until order arrives)
Boxed Up Bushels of Desiccated Passions 
Sunday Serenity #372 -- pic of a couple of Mom's college era paintings

Mom left on Friday the 10th and Carri on Sunday night.  Silly me thought I would be able to get this done the first weekend and have the whole week following for the many other things I can't do when Mom and Carri are home.  Writing, Reading, crocheting, playing computer games, watching video or listening to music to my heart's content without interruption.  Let's not forget sleep.

Down in the Mouth
Carri January 14th
Not only did I not finish by Sunday night,  I did not finish by the next Sunday night which would have been a big problem if Mom and Carri had returned as planned.  Carri wasn't ready to step back into her position so I had, as it turned out, until the end of the following weekend.  Carri got home late Friday the 24th and Mom late Sunday the 27th and I was still scrambling to clear off Mom's side of the bed and the floor beside it as Carri left to pick her up.

On the 18th as soon as I had created the room for them I made a order.  The three boxes arrived Monday afternoon but I had a number of commitments last week that left me no time to deal with them so they hogged much of the extra room I'd created by the new room do.  The contents of two of the boxes are featured in the image heading this check-in entry.  Which makes this post a time-warp as I didn't get that cart assembled until nearly midnight Sunday night--Feb 5th.

Since I was still working on this post (have been since Wednesday hoping to make that check-in) when it was time to start prepping Sunday's post, I allowed myself to break open the two smaller boxes and assemble the contents of the middle-sized box (a five hour project) so I could get pictures for Sunday's post which I'll start prepping as soon as this one goes up.

That pic was intended to showcase the OED 2nd Edition on CD-ROM and the Britannica 2009 on CD-ROM which arrived Saturday morning.  These I consider major writer's reference.


My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
  • work at cleaning up the Wrimo messes
  • get Blow Me a Candy Kiss prepped for self pub
  • target a second finished short story for the self publish route: How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • work on cleaning up the WhizFolder for the NaNo Novel, Wailing Womb [task list similar to that for FOS Storyworld below]
  • work on the FOS storyworld:
  •  -- add notes from DAYDREAM STORYWORLD notebook to FOS Worksheet WhizFolder as well as the specific story's Whiz
  •  -- add events to timeline
  •  -- add character sketches, rambles, and metadata
  •  -- move or copy metadata from each story's Whiz into the FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- add to FOS mind map in Xmind
  •  -- clean up notes, research, reference, links, etc in each story's Whiz, adding any relevant to multiple stories to FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- clarify specific research needs
  •  -- edit existing scenes and add new
  •  -- target one of the POV character's stories to focus on  [When Home Is Where the Horror Is AKA Crystal's story]
  •  -- break out Aeon Timeline and start inputting info from the text timeline
  •  -- breakout Smart Draw and experiment with creating story boards and plot flow charts
  • AWAI Copywriting course work: working the course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking.
  • keep on top of the upcoming blog tour reviews
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs 
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for books owned and borrowed books finished 2012-2013
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for finished ROW80 READ CRAFT books


Currently Reading

[For Round 1 2014 I've removed all but five of the books in this ever growing list. I may not totally abandon the others but I'm targeting the five in this list for focus until finished.  As a book comes off I'll add another.]

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack   my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Found on my shelves while packing books.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.
AWAI Copywriting Course materials

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Finished this fall of 2012 and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where Igot the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf, having found it while packing/unpacking my books.  Don't remember how it became mine.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published) 


Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and in It's Like This and The Eyes Have It so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.

Between the last week of February and the first week of May 2013 my sister and I made several round trips to my place in Phoenix to pack up my stuff and bring it back to Longview.  It was supposed to be only the first load for my books, crafts and summer clothes but in March our landlord decided he needed to sell the trailer and set May 15 as our move-by date.  So I made two more trips and my sister made a forth the first week in May, leaving me behind while she took a load back and returning for the forth load.

Merlin, our cat, came back with me in May.  During our trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.  He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick winter of 2012-1013.

As 2014 Round 1 begins we're pushing 8 months since leaving Phoenix with the last load by February 11 it will be 9 months.  There has been no further visits.  He's living with his folks in the same tiny room we shared for ten years but we both agreed that environment would be unhealthy for me and our relationship.  So we're waiting for him to find a place before I come back for a visit bringing a van load of household miscellany and Merlin.

Before I can go home for good my meds need to be stabilized and healthcare assured.  I have to be separated from Ed in order to qualify for health care.  So much for those wascally wabbits and their so-called concern for the sanctity of marriage.

Meanwhile we make do with phone calls, text chats, emails and one or two vid chats each day.


A significant development in self-management was the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring.  That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.

In December I transferred all my task alarms to my smartphone, a birthday present from Ed in November, and no longer use this timer except for one off tasks.

There have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day since August.  I have gained more ground each month.  Adding minor and major commitments to self and family.  I've just [Feb 3 2014] taken on care of one of the two litter boxes.  I've been on duty with Mom from lunch to bedtime most Tuesdays since fall and oven fix dinner at least one other time during the week.  Significantly, except for Tuesday, most evening dinner preps are sprung on me in the one to four hours before time to start which would have flummoxed me into paralysis a year ago.

One of the fallouts from the stabilized sleep schedule has been an increase in those intense, creative, colorful and story-like dreams that have often contributed to what I call the storyseeds for my fiction.  This augers well for the future work with my fiction files--both editing and new writing.  And is a sign the depression is lifting or at least being managed well.

The early-bird schedule I switched to last August specifies the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and the afternoon for active/social tasks like exercise, sorting/organizing, chores, hygiene, family interaction, vid or text chats with Ed.  But so far I've nearly always gravitated back to the brainwork after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another.  So many things get neglected.  Which often leads to fudging on sleep... Slippery slope.

My Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus
w/ high lux light and air ionizer
The two most significant things that contributed to the healthier sleep patterns were the melatonin I began using in late summer and the the full spectrum light therapy lamp I bought during the Cyber Monday sales.  This gives me hope that I won't have to be on the meds forever.  There are still several more things I can add to my Natural Remedies bag.  Like maintaining consistency in the sleep schedule (still pulling too many 20 to 30 hour days and too many under 7.5 hour sleeps) exercise, meditation weight loss, water intake, detoxing from sugar and food additives and diet changes for starters.  Except for the sleep schedule most of these I've been dabbling at in the last six months but I need to be committed and consistent with those things I've experienced as helping. 

Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility.  One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result.  I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.

The evolution of the writing and workout room:

Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
January 2013
Late January 2013
Tramp set on end after
2 falls and a close call

March 2013
Making room for 1st van load

Reference Books
The 1999 World Book set
and the Britannica Great Books set
bought from the library in 2005
And writing related misc.

Looks more like a nest
Primary work and play and mope
station May 11-24 2013

Cubby desk May 25 2013
replace exercise ball
with office chair

June 2013
Almost good but hard
to get in and out and no room
to scoot or swivel chair

April-August 2013
Standing desk above tramp
Good for writing, reading ebooks,
text and vid chat, videos and music
All while getting a gentle workout
Or vigorous with videos and music. 

Bradley Desk Inspector
Major August 2013 Makeover
Cleared Mom's Desk
Finally room to spread
out books and paper

In late August it finally came together: a workable workstation.  The story and pics about it are in these Sunday'sMonday's and Tuesday's posts.  My productivity ratio increased from 1 in 5 days to 1 in 2 or better.  But a couple weeks after setting this up I got my Aspire and being significantly larger than the netbook it didn't work well in this setup and major tweaking commenced.

I keep meaning to add pics of the most significant tweaks to accommodate the Aspire and now there is the January 2014 whole room makeover pics to add.  But not this time.

The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearranged the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Once he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

Merlin nesting with me
Merlin had to stay locked in the laundry room for nearly three months until we were sure he was free of contagion or parasites.

My hope that once Merlin was allowed to join the family the two of them would entertain each other came true.  After a few weeks of talking to each other through the laundry room door they had a brief encounter when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they  touched noses and nobody hissed.  Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.

A couple weeks after that Merlin was paroled and they've acted buddies ever since with Bradley obsessed with grooming Merlin who had been lax with that due to his poor health.  They do occasionally fight over the spots of sun on the living room carpet.

But for over a week after Merlin got paroled I hung out on the tramp again so he could hang out with me.


Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)

My Week (or two) in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week or two)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

Flannery O'Connor
Mystery and Manners:
Occasional Prose
In the last couple of weeks I've accomplished a lot to optimize efficiency and productivity.  I finally got my space arranged.  Tho there will be a lot of tweaking the heavy lifting and major shifting of stuff is done.  Have enjoyed the benefits for a week.

I've also got all of the ebooks in all of the currently reading lists here loaded on one or more of my Blaze phone, Nexus 7 or Google Drive.  Hoping that will help me plow through them.

But I still haven't found much extra time for reading.  I was on duty with Mom three or more days a week.  The the big room project tho done but for the tweaking and organizing of small items will continue to consume time and energy until the displaced stuff are established in new homes.

It doesn't help that I've been feeling under par for over a week.

But with the convenience of the Blaze and Nexus as ereaders I'm quickly developing the habit of reaching for the nearest one when I've got a few minutes to spare.  And we know that reading is the kind of thing that the more you do the more you want to do.

My new desk set up also accommodates my visual impairment for reading regular print tree books--adequate full spectrum light from the right angle, support for a hands-free placement the book at the correct distance and angle, and use of the necessary magnification.  These requirements have been my reality for at least five years now which has put a major crimp in my reading style as picking up a tree book on impulse anywhere in the house or on the go is no longer possible.

Library Loot from today's visit--Fiction
The biggest bookish news this week is about the library visit last Thursday.  Brought home ten books.

My Week (or two) in Review:


~Other Bookish Posts:

Friday Forays in Fiction
Looting the Library

Finished reading recently:

Ghost of Lost Eagle by Dean Sault
The Return by Melissa Douthit
Sinnerman by Jonathan M. Cook
Blood Drama by Christopher Meeks -- just finished
In the Company of Others by Jan Karon  --  read aloud to Mom.

Began reading recently:

Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) --  a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory.  a NetGalley ARC
My AWAI Copywriting course Installment 1 (of 13)
The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshal -- this is a re-read.  It is one of the ebooks packaged with the Marshall Plan writer's software sent to me by Evan Marshall in exchange for sharing my experience on Joystory.
Where the Wildflowers Grow by Vera Jane Cook -- January 21 blog tour
Organic Beauty With Essential Oil by Rebecca Park Totilo  --  January 23 blog tour
Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life
by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour
The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerndt --  February 4 blog tour.
420 Characters by Lou Beach  -- library book

Reading Now (Some Intermittently):


Most of these I plug away in at a snail's pace--a couple pages or chapters per week or even every other week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I read in them so infrequently.

Feb 3 -- This is getting to be too much even for me. By next week, I'm going to prioritize five and either grey out or remove the rest and add one back for every one I finish.  
Feb 10  -- The top two are elevated above the 5 because they are commitments with different parameters--AWAI will be swapped out with the next installment 12 times and Hospice Voices, the current evening read-aloud, will take between two and three months to finish.
Feb 23 -- Will be keeping library books separate between the priority 5+2 and the inactive section showing as active when checked out and inactive when returned unfinished.

My AWAI Copywriting course Installment 1 (of 13)
Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life
by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour (February 10 have started over, reading aloud to Mom)

It's Not About You by Max Lucado.  I found this on my own shelves while packing up my personal library.  It was one of the last gifts I received from my Dad in 2005 the year he died of cancer.
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)
The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshal -- this is a re-read.
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) -- a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory. a NetGalley ARC

~Library Books
Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights
by Marina Warner  --  has gone back to the library.  want it back.  actually I want it on my own reference shelf
The Golden Thread: A History of Writing by Ewan Clayton This the story of the alphabets and writing tools from the early stone tablets to the digital age.
American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance by Peter Gottschalk  The history of conflict between the major religions since the inception of America, the country whose constitution guaranteed freedom of religion.
Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison An apologia for skepticism and the scientific method.

~Blog Tour books still unfinished
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  ROW80 reading list  posted review for blog tour in March 2013  but still not finished
Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  for Blog Tour Review Feb 8 2013.  The review is up but I'm not finished.
Organic Beauty With Essential Oil  --  January 23 blog tour

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton  ROW80 reading list
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Also found on my shelves.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron   ROW80 reading list
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  on ROW80 reading list.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols    On ROW80 reading list as I'm reading this for an understanding of archetype, character type and the language of symbol.
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor    ROW80 reading list  This is a reread
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller   ROW80 reading list  Net Galley ARC a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels.
The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon -- one of the new library books and also a NetGalley ARC that timed out on me a couple months ago.
Choice Theory: A Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser M.D.
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson  I own this book.
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler   ROW80 reading list
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. Part of the fun is in stopping to read the stories as the narrative reaches the point he writes them. An author bio thus on my ROW80 reading list )
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley   ROW80 reading list
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.   ROW80 reading list  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch  I pulled this off my sister's bookshelf awhile back.  It is over a thousand pages in smallish font.  So it will be on this list for a long time.


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio from library)  Was listening to this while working on this Xmas crochet project in 2012 and have had to restart it several times and get pulled away again and again and again.
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss Tree book ARC, this is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over...and over...and over
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon  --  a NetGalley ARC was reading last fall when the blog tour schedule took over

~Library Books
420 Characters by Lou Beach  A beautifully made book physically.  With beautifully wrought prose composing several dozen flash fictions told in 420 characters or less counting spaces and punctuation that were originally published as status updates on fb.  One of six fiction books I checked out last week.

~Blog Tour books still unfinished
 Arctic Fire by Paul Byers.
The Thunderbird Conspiracy by R. K. Price
The Three Sisters by Bryan Taylor
Head Games by Erika Rummel

___Blog Tours:

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes -- March 11 blog tour

___Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews (non blog tours):

Whenever I'm not pinned to a date like with the blog tours I do very poorly at getting reviews written in a timely way after finishing books and the longer I wait the harder it gets.  This is an issue I'm working on and hope to get a system in place to smooth the track from beginning book to posting review.

Jan Karon's Mitford series. 
The short lighthearted chapters of these books are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams.  

I was reading them aloud to my Mom during my visits here for nearly two years and I decided some time back to wait until we finished them all and do one review for the entire series.  We began the first one spring of 2012 but had not finished before I went home after my November visit.  My sister had taken over in December and had finished book 1 and started book 2.  As soon as I caught up to where they were last January (2013) I took over mid book 2.  

Feb 10 2014: We just finished the last one, In the Company of Others, 
  • At Home in Mitford 
  • A Light in the Window by Jan Karon  
  • These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon  .
  • Out to Caanan by Jan Karon 
  • A New Song by Jan Karon.  
  • A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon
  • Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon 
  • In This Mountain by Jan Karon
  • A Light From Heaven by Jan Karon  --   the final book in the Mitford series.
  • At Home in Holly Springs by Jan Karon  --  Father Tim series first of two.  Features Father Tim from the Mitford series having adventures beyond Mitford after his retirement from Episcopal priest duty. In this one he returns to the town he grew up in. 
  • In the Company of Others by Jan Karon  --  Father Tim series second of two.  In this one he and Cynthia have a several week vacation in Ireland from where his father and grandfather had immigrated
The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff  a library book
Losses by Robert Wexelblatt an ARC
After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  This is post apocalyptic horror with zombies.    I anticipated enjoying this even tho zombies are not my favorite horror theme because I really enjoyed his The Red Church and I did but probably not to the same degree.  And its continued.
Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
Good in Bed by Jennifer Wiener
Certain Girls by Jennifer Wiener (sequel to Good in Bed)
Joyland by Stephen King
Rose Fire by Mercedes Lackey

Another series for which I'll probably do a single review. I think there is a 5th book out now so I may wait until I can get my hands on it.  These four were loaners from my niece.

  • Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Legacy by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Spellbound by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson   ROW80 reading list (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.
 Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg   Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list.   I discussed this in such detail in this ROW80 check-in post which was practically a review and I'll probably copy/paste much of what I said there into the review.
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  This was a NetGalley ARC but later I picked it up for Kindle when it was free on Amazon.  I began it in Adobe Digital Editions and when that timed out on me switched to the Kindle for PC.  This was a memoir of an addict's decent into the abyss and rise back out again and was quite engrossing.
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)

Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living by by Bailey White I thought this was a novel and getting set to put it in the fiction list below when I thought to check out its page on Goodreads and discovered it is a memoir.  It's short little vignette chapters and easy to read font made it ideal for taking with me to doctor appointments.  Which is how I managed to finally finish it.


___Reviews and Bookish Posts:

Nexus 7 in Keyboard Case

Friday Forays in Fiction: Reading Hungers  -- it's mine now. No more schlepping back and forth to the library and restarting it 3-5 times a year.
A Nexus of Aspirations -- Another one has fallen off my Lust List
Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote -- a quote, a poem, a LOLcat
Sometimes You Just Gotta --  Did you hear the clatter as this 25 year resident of the top notch of my Lust List fell off?
This Is Just Wrong!  A lit cat LOL

Author Interview with James Zerndt for his, The Korean Word For Butterfly blog tour. Feb 11

The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerndt --  February 4 blog tour

I was in my late twenties when I was first introduced to novels featuring the interplay between two or more cultures.  It was the late eighties and one of my Literature and Creative Writing professors (Lawson Inada, later Poet Laureate for Oregon) assigned us a book by an Amer-Indian woman.  Silko?  I was entranced and began to seek them out and have continued to favor them ever since.  Trust me when I say, James Zerndt compares favorably with some of the best I encountered with his The Korean Word for Butterfly.  I am grateful to him for introducing me to the Korean/American relationship.

Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour

Eric Linder has given us a treasure in Hospice Voices.  He has taught us how to see beyond the visible evidence of physical degeneration and grief over imminent loss to the beauty of the souls preparing to pass on.  He has tapped into the power of storytelling to show us those souls as they sort through their memories and emotions in their attempt to find meaning in their life and share their insights or define the essence of their 'I' and see recognition and validation in the eyes of those, like Eric, with the patience, compassion and courage to bear witness--to listen and observe with neither prejudice nor prescription.

Small town Georgia, 1960. Passions and secrets marinate in a simmering summer heat.  Instead of a single protagonist like Sassy in The Story of Sassy Sweetwater to get attached to and to view the events through, Cook has given us a large cast of at least a dozen well drawn and differentiated characters (The Cassidy family of four and all those caught in their gravity well) whose secrets entwine their many lives like bindweed with some of the most insidious vines being those secrets individuals keep from themselves until they've gained a choke hold on their hope and happiness, their very lives and those of their nearest and dearest.

Organic Beauty With Essential Oil by Rebecca Park Totilo  --  January 23 blog tour

With several personal experiences behind me I needed no further proof that essential oils were essential to health and happiness when the blog tour invite for this book landed in my email.  I was excited by the blurb description and this book, unlike some, totally lived up to its blurb.  It is jammed packed with recipes for personal hygiene whose names are drool worthy.

I suggest not reading this book while hungry.

My Friday Forays in Fiction featured another one of my LOLcats displaying a literary quote along with a kitteh's spin on it.

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats
by Constance Corcoran Wilson


I loved this Dr. Suess-ical story and got so caught up in the rhythm and rhyme I couldn't seem to compose my review without it.

Woman On Top by Deborah Schwartz.  I've long touted my theory that story has the power to change you in lasting and profound ways. Woman on Top just might have done that for me. It triggered a personal epiphany and if Kate's story has the sticking power I sense it does it could be the spark that keeps the vision lit and the impetus to move toward it.

If that isn't a good reason to read this story, I don't know what could be a better one.

New Arrivals:

By snail mail:

By email:

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes -- March 11 blog tour

from NetGalley

ARC in waiting:

Tree Books:

The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an american Metropolis by Mark Binelli
The Autobiography of Us
The Abundance by Amit Majmudar
Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman by Minka Pradelski


____By email:

Troubled by Scott Nicholson

____From Net Galley:

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Unloched by Candace Lemon-Scott
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon  [the  55 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I have just nabbed a library copy]
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
With or Without You A Memoir by Domenica Ruta   [the  55 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I am watching for a library copy]
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
The Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano  [the  55 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I am watching for a library copy]
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson
Kinslow System Your Path to Proven Success in Health, Love, and Life by Frank J Kinslow
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Women, Sex, Power, And Pleasure Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want by Evelyn Resh
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz
The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,
The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
Directing Your Destiny by Jennifer Grace
Hiding in Sunshine by John Stuart and Caitlin Stuart
I Am: Renewal from Within the Garden by Lucie K Lewis
The Book Publisher's Toolkit by Independent Book Publishers Association
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino
Why Priests? by Garry Wills
Why we Write by by Meredith Maran (Editor)
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon
Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) --  a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory.

If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.


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